Geopolitical zones of Nigeria

Geopolitical zones of Nigeria

Here is a post with full details on the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria, their states and population – Nigeria is a West African country, that has the Sahara Desert to its north, and the Atlantic Ocean to its south. Nigeria has neighbors such as Chad to the North and Cameroon to the South East, the country is populated with over 200 million people (worldmeters) who come from over 240 ethnic groups, each of whom speaks different languages. Culturally, Nigeria is one of the most diverse countries in the world, and the influences of the Neighboring countries mentioned above, mixed with the influence of Religion: Islam to the North, and Christianity to the South.

Presently, there are 6 Geopolitical zones in Nigeria, and the reason for their existence is more economic than anything. These zones exist to enable each region to get a fair share of the National Commonwealth. The present arrangement was created by the regime of Late President Sani Abacha and has been in operation for at least (as at June 2019 ) 26 years.

According to the arrangement, the zones are not created purely based on geographical locations, however, states which have similar ethnic groups (based on language, religion, culture) are bound together in the same ethnic group. That way, the government could better allocate resources among these groups in order to ensure that no region or people were entirely left behind as per development and infrastructure.

There is no constitutional basis for this division, and although the geopolitical zones are not at all recognized in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, there have been calls from many sections and quarters to institutionalize the zones. Such people as Mr. Yinka Odumakin of the Afenifere Renewal Movement, Chief Ralph Uwechue of the Ohaneze Ndigbo (Political group of the Igbo people), and Mr. Joshua Benameisigha of the Ijaw National Congress have all called for the official recognition of the Six Geopolitical Zones in the Nigerian Constitution.

The Geopolitical Zones and Their States

North-central, Northwest, Northeast, South-south, Southwest, Southeast.

  • North-Central: The north central is made up of six states the Benue, Niger, Kogi, Kwara, Plateau, Nassarawa, and FCT.
  • North West: This is made up of seven states the Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Kebbi, Zamfara, and Sokoto states. The zone covers more than a quarter of the total population of Nigerians.
  • North East: Represented by six states which are the Gombe, Bauchi, Yobe, Benue, Adamawa, Taraba states.
  • South-South: It is presented by six states Akwa-Ibom, Cross Rivers, Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta and Edo.
  • South East: This is represented by five states the Abia, Imo, Ebonyi, and Anambra states.
  • South West: This is represented by the six states; Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Ogun and, Lagos.

The Following are the Six Geopolitical Zones in Nigeria, States and their population. Including some important and also useful information about each of them.

Middle Belt (or North Central) – These are the Ethnic groups; whose states fall into the middle of the country geographically speaking. The states include Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, and Plateau states. The North Central also includes the Federal Capital Territory. The Major tribes in each of the states and population are broken down as follows.

  • Benue State (5,741,800): Tiv, Idoma, Igala, Egede, Jukun, and Etolu tribes.
  • Kogi State (4,473,500): Nupe, Igala, Ogori, Owe, Oworo, Ebira, Yagba, Yoruba, and Bunu tribes.
  • Kwara State (3,192,900): Fulani, Yoruba, Nupe.
  • Nasarawa State (2,523,400): Gwari.
  • Niger State (5,556,200): Hausa, Igala, Kadara, Kamaku, Koro, Laaru, Nupe, Baruba.
  • Plateau State (4,200,400): Birom, Bashiri, Bassa, Buji, Challa, Chip, Chokobo, Fyem as well as Fyer tribes.

The Middle Belt, as the North Central is alternatively called has the following in common. The land is fertile, and so farming is the major occupation in the region. As a matter of fact, the Benue state is called the food basket of the nation; because of its bountiful yearly harvest of yams and other major crops. The Gwari people of Abuja are also prolific farmers-. They are known throughout the country for their “Abuja Yams”. While we must not forget the Tiv people, who were once fearsome warriors; but have settled peacefully for a life of farming and hunting.

Six Geopolitical Zones In Nigeria And Their States (Population)

Majority of people in the Middle Belt are Christians, although traditional religions are also practiced in the region, as with all of the country.

Although there is no common language, there are languages that are commonly understood. For example, in Benue state, apart from English or pidgin, most people are able to communicate in Igala language. Same in Niger state, there are indigenous Igala people in this state as well, while they can also be found in large numbers in Kogi State.

The Diverse people of the Middle Belt face similar challenges, which include flooding which was simultaneously reported in many areas including Kwara State, Benue state, and parts of Niger state. Similarly, the peoples of the Middle Belt face a common challenge of insecurity, as their lands have been often raided by Fulani Herdsmen who have attacked isolated communities, killing many, and burning homes, often in retaliation for not being allowed to freely graze their cattle on people’s farmlands.

North East- The North East are those states that find themselves in the Top Right hand of the map of what is today called Nigeria. They are not particularly distinct or contrast from the first geopolitical zone highlighted above, but they deserve a thorough analysis, and that is done below. The states included in this classification are Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe states. The indigenous peoples who find themselves in these states are:

  • Adamawa (4,248,400): Kanuri, Gombi, Gude, Gwamba, Hausa, Hona, Ichen, Jibu, Jirai, KAmbu among others.
  • Bauchi (6,537,300): Kanuri, Karekare, Kariya, Kirfi, Kudachano, Kushi, Kwanka, Longuda, Miya, Ningi, Afawa, Pero, Polchi Habe, Rebina, Sanga,
  • Saya, Shegidi, Shira, Tera, Waga, Warji, Zaranda.
  • Borno (5,860,200): Kanuri, Tera, Bura, Marghi
  • Gombe (3,257,000): Tangale, Tula,
  • Taraba (3,066,800): Tarok, Tikar, Tiv, Vommi, Waka, Wurkun, Yandang, Yott, Bakulung, Bali, Bambora, Bambuko, Banda, Betso, Bobua, Chamba,
  • Chukkol, Dangsa, Diba, Fulani, Gengle, Gornun, Gonia, Gwom.
  • Yobe (3,294,100): Affade, Bura, Bade, Bole, Buru, Fulani, Kanuri, KareKare, Manga, Ngizim, Shuwa tribes.

Just like the Middle Belt, the North East is a mixture of many tribes who have been grouped together to be called the North East. There is a greater balance in the area of Religion- perhaps even an overall dominance of Islam.

Six Geopolitical Zones In Nigeria And Their States (Population)

There is a lot of pastoral farming, although not up to the scale of the Middle Belt, and there is a lot of cattle herding done also- primarily due to the presence of the Fulani Herdsmen in the region. There is quite a lot of commerce in the region, and this commerce is done both internally and with merchants who cross the border from Niger Republic, or Chad.

Culturally, the Jukun, Kanuris, Tiv, and Fulani tribes have the most influence due to their numbers. These tribes were all once fierce warriors, and even today, they are not always friendly with one another, and with outsiders.

The North East has faced a common security challenge; Islamic Insurgents have basically set up camp in the region, and in recent times the region has been a war zone.

North West- These are the tribes or Ethnic Groups who long ago settled in the area that has now become states in the top left corner on the map of what has now become the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Below are the states who make up the region, and the Ethnic groups that make up the states.

  • Jiigawa State (5,828,200): Auyoka, Fulani, Hausa,
  • Kaduna State (8,252,400): Fulani, Gure, Gwandara, Kwari, Kagoma, Jabba, Hausa, Kadara, Kafanchan, Kagoro, Kaje, Kajuru, Kamaku, Kanikon,
  • Katab, Kibalo, Koro, Kurama, Mada, Manchok, Moruwa and Nincham, Nunku and Rishuwa, Rumada, Saya, and others.
  • Kano State (13,076,900): Fulani, Hausa, Teshena,
  • Katsina State (7,831,300): Hausa-Fulani.
  • Kebbi State (4,440,000): Fulani, Kamaku, Kyenga, Rheshe, Shanga, Uncinga, Zamarawa, Achipa, Dakakari Tribes.
  • Sokoto State (4,998,100): Fulani, Hausa.
  • Zamfara State (4,515,400): Fulani.

The North West is the bedrock of the Fulani Caliphate in Nigeria. Even though there are many other Ethnic Groups in the region, the Fulanis make up the vast majority. In some states, Fulanis are the only tribe in the whole area.

Religion in the region is not disputable. Islam is the dominant religion, even though there are others such as Christianity in Southern Kaduna, and traditional religion all over, Islam outnumbers all the others by a wide margin.

The land is quite arid, with the Sahara desert just ahead, and so pastoral farming is not really practiced at a very large scale. Instead, there is a sizable number of Cattle herders, and many others are engaged in the Armed Forces.

Culturally, the domination of the Fulanis is again at the forefront, they have over the years interweaved their culture and religion. Sharia: a law code based on Islamic tenets is followed and obeyed in many areas, and according to history, the Sultan of Sokoto is first a Religious Leader before a Traditional Ruler.

South East: The South East is a region located at the bottom right corner on the map of what has become the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is populated by a tribe called the Igbos, as well as some other Ethnic Groups in small numbers. The states making up this region, and the tribes therein are arraigned below.

  • Anambra State (5,527,800): Igbo, Igala,
  • Imo State (5,408,800): Igbo.
  • Abia State {(3,727,300): Igbo.
  • Ebonyi State (2,880,400): Igbo.
  • Enugu State (4,411,100): Igbo, Igala.

The Igbo language is the premier tool of communication in the South East, this is because the states are made up of basically the same people, although there are a number of variations in dialects available throughout the Region.
The South Easterners have accepted Christianity as a general rule. Although there are other religions in small numbers, such as Jews (Judaism) and traditional believers.

Farming is the major occupation in the region, although agriculture is not done on a scale similar or equal to that which is done in the Middle Belt. Igbos are merchants by nature and they generally venture into private business.

South-South or (Niger Delta): The Niger Delta is the region at the southernmost tip of the Nigerian Nation. It encompasses riverine communities, with a beautiful cultural heritage. Some of the States in the South-South and the people therein are given below.

  • Akwa Ibom (5,482,200): Ibibio.
  • Bayelsa (2,278,000): Ijaw, Itsekiri.
  • Cross River (3,866,300): Ikom, Iyalla, Mbembe.
  • Delta (5,663,400): Urhobo, Isoko, Itsekiri, Igbo
  • Edo (4,235,600): Bini, Esan, Estakor.
  • Rivers (7,3030,900): Kalabari, Igbo.

The South-South is majorly a Christian region. Farming is practiced in some areas including, Delta, Cross River, and Akwa Ibom, while Rivers State, and Bayelsa, due to their proximity to the Ocean, are predominantly fishermen.

South West- The South West is the region to the bottom left corner of the Nigerian Map. They are a very advanced civilization, a people who occupied these lands long before the formation of what is now Nigeria. Some of the States that make up the South West, and the tribes that make them up are highlighted below.

  • Ekiti (3,270,800): Yoruba.
  • Lagos (12,550,600): Yoruba.
  • Ogun (5,217,700): Egun, Yoruba.
  • Ondo (4671,700): Ebira, Yoruba.
  • Osun (4,705,600): Yoruba.
  • Oyo (7,840,900): Yoruba.

There is a fine balance in the South West when it comes to religion. There is good representation in both Islam and Christianity, as well as Traditional Religions. According to some analysts, however, the Yoruba people favor Islam above any other Religion.
The language of communication throughout the South West is the Yoruba language.
Farming is very well practiced, in the South West, even though not on a very large scale.
Politically, as well as commercially, the South West has excelled in many ways, and Lagos is the economic capital of Nigeria and West Africa.

Economic Activities Of Nigerian States

The economic activities of each geographical zone in Nigeria are listed below.

  • The North geopolitical zones are based on economic activities like cattle herding, agriculture, commerce, oil production, Tin, semi-precious stones, rich in coal.
  • The south zones are engaged in agricultural activities like production of oil and gas, farming, periwinkle shell, granite, palm wine, herbal medicine, crude oil, natural gas, ceramics, iron ore, tin and, rock.
  • The largest geopolitical zone is the northwest which consists of seven states, it covers more than a quarter of the Nigeria’s economy.
  • The second and third largest political zone is occupied by the south-west then the south-south which consist of 6 states each.
  • The smallest political zone is the south-east it consists of five states while north-central and north-east consist of five states each.

The Six Geopolitical Zones in Nigeria & Their States

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